SIU Concludes Toronto Custody Injury Investigation
Case Number: 12-TCI-087
Mississauga (9 July, 2012) --- The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), Ian Scott, has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to charge two Toronto Police Service (TPS) officers with any criminal offence in relation to the injuries sustained by 26-year-old James Ross Kennedy in March of 2012.
The SIU assigned two investigators and one forensic investigator to probe the circumstances of this incident. One subject officer consented to an interview with the SIU, while the other declined a request to be interviewed. The officers did not provide copies of their duty notes, as is their legal right. Three witness officers and nine civilian witnesses were interviewed.
The SIU investigation found that the following events took place on Saturday, March 24:
• At approximately 10:30 a.m., the two plainclothes subject officers attended a Flax Gardenway residence to speak to a potential witness to a homicide. However, that individual did not live at this address, and the premises were occupied by Mr. Kennedy and his girlfriend, Shannon Morales.
• The officers knocked on the door. Assuming they were members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses who had knocked on the door earlier, Mr. Kennedy yelled at the two individuals to leave.
• The knocking continued, causing Mr. Kennedy to run down the stairs and open his front door. Ms. Morales was with him and thought the two individuals were drug dealers. When the subject officers asked whether the individual they were looking for lived in that home, Mr. Kennedy began yelling at them to go speak to the building superintendent.
• According to Mr. Kennedy, the officers did not identify themselves as police officers, and one of them opened his wallet about one quarter of an inch. The subject officer who provided a statement to the SIU said that they did verbally identify themselves as officers, and that his partner also showed his badge.
• Mr. Kennedy came out on his porch in an aggressive manner and ordered the officers off his property. He came very close to one of the officers, causing the officer to push him back.
• At that point, Ms. Morales left the front door area to phone police.
• Mr. Kennedy took a step back, came forward, and grabbed the officer’s hooded sweatshirt, pulling it over his head. The officer’s partner then grabbed Mr. Kennedy’s right arm and they all fell to the ground. The officers attempted to arrest him for assault and Mr. Kennedy continued to resist. He may have briefly lost consciousness during the arrest process.
• Mr. Kennedy was transported to 31 Division, and later taken to Humber Finch Hospital where he was initially diagnosed as sustaining a bruised face and ribs. The next day he was further diagnosed as having sustained a concussion and corneal abrasion.
Director Scott said, “In my view, this confrontation was the unfortunate result of Mr. Kennedy’s mistaken belief that the two officers at his front door were either members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses or drug dealers. As a result, he acted in an aggressive fashion toward the two individuals on his porch. One officer, who must have been of the view that he had properly identified himself, pushed Mr. Kennedy in an attempt to gain some distance between the two of them because he misapprehended why Mr. Kennedy was acting in such an aggressive fashion to his seemingly benign request. Mr. Kennedy then responded in a more aggressive way by grabbing that officer’s hooded sweatshirt and pulling it over his head. This led to the two officers concluding that an officer was unlawfully assaulted, and so they used force to take Mr. Kennedy to the ground, and more force to subdue him on the ground. While I am satisfied that Mr. Kennedy never intended to assault two police officers because he did not think they were officers, I am equally satisfied that the officers were acting in good faith when they attended Mr. Kennedy’s household, and that they did, from their perspective, identify themselves as police officers.”
Director Scott added, “Further, I am of the view that when Mr. Kennedy was acting in an aggressive fashion toward one of the officers for no apparently legitimate reason, that officer had the lawful authority to use minimal force to establish some distance between himself and Mr. Kennedy. From the perspective of the subject officers, I am of the view that they had reasonable grounds to believe that Mr. Kennedy had unlawfully assaulted an officer and accordingly had the authority to use force to arrest him for that assault. Given Mr. Kennedy’s level of resistance, I cannot conclude that the force the officers used was excessive.”
The SIU is an arm’s length agency that investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault. Under the Police Services Act, the Director of the SIU must
- consider whether an officer has committed a criminal offence in connection with the incident under investigation
- depending on the evidence, lay a criminal charge against the officer if appropriate or close the file without any charges being laid
- report the results of any investigations to the Attorney General.
Monica Hudon, firstname.lastname@example.org
SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-622-2342 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 2342